By Frank Foreman
The Fort LeBoeuf wrestling team showed the home spectators why it is one of the top programs in the state Tuesday night. The Saegertown wrestling team may have shown itself that it isn’t far off from catching the Bison.
In a contest that featured six matches decided by fall, it was Fort LeBoeuf that proved to be too much, earning a 38-27 victory. While the Bison wrestlers were all smiles following the match, Saegertown head coach Jim Mulligan had plenty to be pleased with, despite dropping his ninth-straight dual meet against Fort LeBoeuf as part of the Panthers’ coaching staff. The last seven of those losses have come as head coach.
“There were a lot of positives. We got some pins and some bonus points. It’s the closest we’ve been to (beating) them,” Mulligan said. “(Fort LeBoeuf) is just a hard team to beat. They do what they need to do. We’re really not too disappointed. Maybe a little, but we’re a young team.”
The positives for Saegertown were easy to find, as four wrestlers won by fall. Junior Tyler Vath pinned Adam Borgia at the 5:21 mark at 132 pounds in a one-sided affair. Nick Monico pinned Fort LeBoeuf’s Colton Pillar at 5:27 in the 138-pound match. Garrett Zuver dominated Jacob Lathrop at 170 pounds, and Dylan Reynolds made short work of Lane Reinwald, winning by fall at 1:09 to highlight Saegertown’s evening.
Reynolds’ win brought the Panthers within eight points of Fort LeBoeuf. Unfortunately for Saegertown, there was just one match remaining, as the Bison built what proved to be an insurmountable lead early in the contest.
The night started about as well as a match could for the Bison, where at 220 pounds Garrett Reinwald won by forfeit to get the ball rolling for Fort LeBoeuf. That ball included six-straight victories for Fort LeBoeuf, allowing the Bison to build a 28-0 lead.
Sandwiched between all of Fort LeBoeuf’s success was the match of the night at 113 pounds, where Isaac Bengel needed an extra frame to finally knock off Jarrott Ruhl by a 4-2 decision. Bengel jumped out to a 2-0 lead with an early takedown, and held the same advantage entering the third period. Ruhl continued to apply pressure, forcing a pair of stalling points against Bengel to even the match to send it to overtime.
In the extra time, Bengel came out and made the first move, scoring a takedown to quickly end a hard-fought match between the two. While the match could have gone either way, it was the missed opportunities by Ruhl that may have ultimately led to the loss, according to Mulligan.
“Jarrott is deep in the match and Bengel is gassed, and we don’t shoot,” Mulligan said. “You have to shoot to win, and Jarrott didn’t do it once the entire match. Bengel is a tough customer, but you have to want to win, and you have to want to shoot.”
At 126 pounds, Fort LeBoeuf senior Tyler Kuzma earned a major decision victory over freshman Jude Mattocks, 9-1. While the final score was lopsided, Mulligan was pleased with his freshman’s outing, and overall was happy with the performance of his underclassmen.
“We had a freshman wrestle 113, and Mattocks at 126 wrestling a senior did really well,” Mulligan said. “They made it through the matches with them. We faced some adversity, and we’re going to move forward rather quickly.”
Vath finally put points on the board for Saegertown at 132 pounds, sparking a run that saw the Panthers win five of the next seven matches. In between the Saegertown victories via pinfall, Saegertown junior Lance Neuscheler picked up an impressive win at 160 pounds over Colton Leube 13-6.
It wasn’t a victory, but the Panthers had a few more highs than lows Tuesday night, something Mulligan doesn’t take lightly. While the Panthers bested last year’s 34-20 loss to the Bison, Mulligan admits there is still plenty of work to do as the young season rolls along.
“(Fort LeBoeuf) is use to beating us. They expect to beat us, and deep down in, I don’t think our kids expect to win yet,” Mulligan said. “I give LeBoeuf credit, they won the match. I don’t think we lost it, I think Fort LeBoeuf won it.”